So, I’ve shown you how to generate the best keyphrases, how to identify spidering issues, how to structure your metadata and how to write visible keyphrase rich copy -is that it? Will that get me top rankings?
Quite often, but it depends on how competitive your online competitors are. If they do all the things you do you’ll need to out link them to out rank them.
Now before you get fazed by this backlinking process, let me assure you it is quite straightforward if you do it in a controlled and structured way). In fact I’m going to spoonfeed you and starting next time I’m going to guide you through a process, such that over a period of a few months you will out rank your competitors. But for the moment lets see why this is so important. Also I’m going to show you some great tools for checking your current links ( and your competitor’s links). Remember also, you are not trying to outlink Amazon, just your nearest competitors – which is a doddle by comparison.
Backlinking – What is it and Why is it Important?
In short, its just getting your url on other websites such that people will click the link and end up on your site. Not a bad thing in itself as this will lead to more traffic and sales, in fact if you are on a major directory, like Yell, or Applegate or Kellys – to name but three – people are quite often more likely to find you that way than directly finding your site. (I’ll show you how to find the important directories for your site later).
However its more important than that, we have a double whammy affect here because the more backlinks you have (sometimes referred to as ‘inbound links’) the more important you are in the search engines eyes and the higher up the rankings you go.
Its obvious really if you think about it, this is the basis of conventional offline networking – the more authoratitive you are in a subject, the more likely you are to get other people in your network to make referrals to you. Its the same with websites and this was basis of Google’s grounbreaking algorithm and why they generate such relevant results.
All Links are not Created Equal
This is also obvious I believe – getting a link from your mum’s site is not as important as getting a link from the BBC site, so when we start the structured process we will prioritise the sites we want links from. In fact there are several important factors relating to the quality of links you should be aware of:-
1. The more authoratitive the site you are getting the link from the better (We have a rough way of measuring this which we call Page Rank – more about this later)
2. The more relevant the interlinked sites the better – clearly if you are a hotel, getting a link from a travel directory is more important than a link from the local lingerie shop.
3. The better structured your link is the better.
This last point is crucial – because not many people know about it its a sure fire way of going one better than your competitors. Quite often just restructuring some of your existing links will give an immediate boost to your rankings.
Essentially what we mean by this is including the keyphrase your page is optimised for in the link text of the incoming link. For example if the keyphrase in question is ‘crunchy widgets’ then this phrase should be included in the inbound link text (sometimes referred to as ‘anchor text’.)
the way the link would appear in the code in the external site ( the one linking to you) would be as follows:-
All that would appear on the external site would be the phrase ‘Crunchy Widgets’ and clicking on it would hyperlink to your site.
You don’t always have control over the way people will link to you but where you do, for example your suppliers and customers websites, you should send them details of the link text you want them to use.
Incidentally this is the basis of ‘Google Bombing’. Some guy at a conference asked the audience (about 500 of them) to put a link from their site to George Bush’s site and include ‘dumb idiot’ as the anchor text. Subsequent Google searches for ‘dumb idiot’ listed George’s site in number one spot, thus showing the power of structured backlinking.
We can measure the importance of a site through the Page Rank (PR). PR is a number Google assigns to every web page out there as a measure of its importance ( from 0 to 10). For example the BBC News site has a PR of 9, most small businesses are anywhere between 0-6. Clearly the higher the PR of the site linking to you the better.
How do you measure Page Rank? Go to http://toolbar.google.com/ and download the Toolbar – it takes minutes and will give you the PR of every site you visit. (Incidentally there are other goodies to be had with this tool including an effective ‘pop up’ blocker)
Be careful about getting links from sites with a PR of zero. Sometimes this means the site has been penalized and this could have a negative impact on your rankings.
Some Useful Web Tools to help with your Linking
Here are some tools to help you understand your own link performance and, importantly, your online competitors. A good strategy is to look at your competitors links and use this as the benchmark for your own efforts. This is the strategy I’ll guide you through next time.
www.linkpopularity.com is a reasonable way to estimate your backlinks. Just go to their site, type in your url and your links will be displayed. You will see that it shows you links identified by different search engines. The reason for this is that in order for a link to be recognized by, for example, Google, the Google spider needs to have spidered both interlinked pages – yours and the external page linking to you. Clearly this will not always have been the case and this is one reason why different engines report different links.
This will show your internal pages linked as well as external links. Also Google only shows some of the links.
There is a command you can use at Google to find the links. At the search box type in links: yourdomain.com and you’ll get them listed. NOTE links is plural, there is a space between the colon and the domain name, and also there is no www. (link:www.yourdomain.com doesn’t work anymore).
My personal preference is to use the tools offered by yahoo.com – it doesn’t really matter which agent you use to check your links. A link is a link regardless of whether search engines have recognised them yet or not. So, at yahoo.com you’ll have the following options:-
To check links into a domain (complete site), type –
To check links into a domain (complete site) excluding internal links, type –
(note the space before the minus sign)
To check links into a specific page, type, for example –
To check links into a page excluding internal links: link:http://www.yoursitse.com/subpage.html –site:yoursite.com
As you can see from above its also useful to know what anchor text has been used in a backlink. You can check this at Google. For example to check the links into www.yourdomain.com that contain the anchor text ‘yellow widget’, at the Google search bar type –
inanchor:yellow widget site:yourdomain.com
(Hopefully you wont have any ‘yellow widget’ anchor text links!)
Finally, if you want to automate all of the above in a useful web tool, there are a couple of freebies I use. They are in beta at the moment but seem to work OK but you’ll need to download them. They are ‘Back Link Analyzer’ and ‘PR Weaver’.
A Google search will locate them for you. My favourite is Back Link Analyzer which shows each link and the corresponding anchor text, all on one line for each link.
So have a play with these and next time I’ll take your through the process of out-linking, out-ranking and out-competing your competitors.
Give me a call if you need any help – 01928 788100.